Ancient Chinese Wisdom
We all witness the transformation of the landscape brought about by the changing seasons. Our bodies sense and feel the changing weather, the shortening and lengthening of our days, and many more of nature’s patterns.
Based on observations of the sun’s annual motion, the ancient Chinese created a lunar calendar dividing the year into 24 segments lasting about 15 days each. Each segment is given a specific solar term and reflects the changes in climate, natural phenomena, and agricultural production, providing a time frame to guide farmers, festivals, and other aspects of everyday human life. Having been merged into the Gregorian calendar, the system has been passed down for generations.
The sun gives energy to all living organisms on earth, and the cosmic system revolving around it regulates our living patterns on a fundamental level. Working with the natural flow of the earth is easier than going against it, and can teach us how to live in harmony with the universe and natural environment. If we can learn the basics of this ancient wisdom, living with nature instead of against it, we can make the best use of opportunities to improve our well-being.
We’re excited to share a series of articles on the solar terms for each season so you can begin to learn the characteristics and signs of the changing solar terms, and tips for how to best care for yourself as the seasons change.
Lì xià 立夏
Start of Summer
Li Xia is the time to bid farewell to spring and welcome the summer days.
We often welcome summer with thin and light clothing and sheets, but even the most physically healthy should beware of getting sick from this change of climate. Eat a little onion in the early morning, drink a small amount of red wine during dinner to unblock the blood vessels. It is advised to follow a low fat, low salt, fiber-rich and light-based diet. Elderly should specifically pay attention to the flow of Qi and blood in order to lower the risk of heart disease. Here are some recipes to help regulate your body during Li Xia.
Xiǎo mǎn 小满
Small Full (Grain)
Late May is the 8th solar term, Xiaoman. The temperature is significantly higher, but it is best to avoid sleeping without covers. This can lower the risk of triggering rheumatism and eczema. “Prevention before cure” should be the health concept of this solar term. We should start by strengthening the body’s Qi and avoiding negative environmental factors.
Xiaoman is the peak for skin diseases, an d our diet can significantly reduce the likelihood of developing one.
It is advised to stay on a fresh and light vegetarian diet. Incorporate foods that reduce inflammation and remove humidity from the body, such as red bean, coix seed, mung bean, melon, sponge gourd, cucumber, lily, cress, water chestnuts, black fungus, lotus root, carrot, tomato, and yam. Avoid eating greasy and heavily flavoured food such as animal fat, seafood or foods that are sour and spicy. It is also best to avoid foods that are hot-natured, fried or baked, such as raw onion, raw garlic, ginger, mustard, pepper, fennel, cinnamon, leek, eggplant, mushroom, sea fish, shrimp, goose and so on.
Here are 2 dishes that can aid your health:
Mang zhǒng 芒种
Grain in Ear
Mang Zhong, June 6, is the time summer temperature and the humidity in the air increases. The body’s sweat can not be dissipated. Since we are in contact with the heat and humidity that filled the air it is easy for us to feel a lack of strength and energy. Therefore, we should pay attention to strengthen the body and avoid the catching seasonal diseases and infectious diseases such as heat stroke, mumps and chickenpox.
According to the climatic characteristics of MangZhong, it is best to keep their mind relaxed and stay light hearted.
In terms of daily life, in order to boost the energy, it is necessary to sleep in late and get up early to properly receive the sunlight (avoid the direct sunlight and be careful of heatstroke) so as to cultivate Yang and encourage the flow of qi and blood.
Seasonal food therapy recipes:
Xia zhì 夏至
Although Xiazhi, the summer solstice falls on the longest day during the summer solstice, but it is not the hottest time of the year. It is because the heat is still accumulating in the earth surface, and has not reach the maximum time. As the saying goes, “hot in three volts”, around mid-July to mid-August, the temperature in all parts of China is the highest, with the maximum temperature in some areas reaching about 40 degrees.
From traditional Chinese medicine standpoint, the summer solstice is the most prosperous season of yang. Since the Yang energy is so strong, it might leak out of the body. One should pay attention to protect and maintain the yang energy in the body.
For a daily routine, one should follow the changes of the yin and yang of nature, and sleep late and get up early. As for exercise, walking, jogging, Tai Chi, radio exercises are recommended. It is best to avoid extreme exercise. If you sweat too much, not only do that hurt the Yin energy, it would also damage the yang. After excessive sweating, you can drink lightly salted water or green bean soup. One must not drink cold water, and certainly not a cold water shower. Otherwise it will cause aggravate humidity and coldness related disease.
As for diet, to balance between the flow of Qi between heart and lungs, it is advised to eat more bitter food. Summer is the season of sweating, with that, the salt loss is also more. And if there are lack of salt in the heart, the heart beats would appear abnormal.
Watermelon, green bean soup and black plum bean soup are good to sooth the thirst in summer, but please avoid having them frozen. Summer climate is hot, people’s digestive function is relatively weak, therefore, the diet should be light should not greasy. One should also eat more grains to cool down the body. Avoid eating hot-natured food, so as to reduce heat in the body. Appropriate amount of cold food is okay but too much can make damage to the spleen and stomach. It is also best to avoid greasy food because that might aggravate diseases like scabies.
Here is a recipe that can help reduce the heatness in the body during Summer:
xiǎo shǔ 小暑
dà shǔ 大暑
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